Santa Cruz Island

Jan 15, 2019 - National Geographic Endeavour II


Our destination today was the Charles Darwin Research Station at Santa Cruz Island, the second largest island in the archipelago.

On our way to the rearing center for giant tortoises, we walked through a very green area full of local vegetation like the gigantic prickly pear cactus with a trunk like a tree.

At the Research Station, we were able to observe first-hand the steps taken that have made this center so successful. We had the chance to be very close to the giant tortoises and their babies, as well as the now famous tortoise Mighty Diego and the remains of Lonesome George.

Later in the morning, we took buses into the highlands of Santa Cruz for lunch. Many other options were given, like visiting a local school or riding a bus to a local farm where sugar cane is harvested and converted in different products like juice, melasa and of course the bases of rum, its fermentation and distillation. There, we also observed the local organic coffee being processed, harvested, dried, roasted, and grinded. We had a taste of all the local products. Some guests had coffee, but many had the rum!

After a well-deserved tasty meal at a local restaurant, many guests continued exploring the area while others opted to have a cool drink and relax back in the town of Puerto Ayora.

Soon after, some of us headed to a bus ride searching for geochelone porteri, Santa Cruz Island’s endemic species of giant tortoise. We had a great time walking in the grass, finding tortoises in the area in their natural habitat. We found some that were over 400 pounds with majestic shells, simply staring at us.

Today’s visit was outstanding, and as our expedition is about to reach its peak, we are already a big family, bonded by the mystical magic called the Galápagos Islands.

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About the Author

Celso Montalvo

Naturalist/Certified Photo Instructor

Celso was born in Guayaquil, Ecuador. At the age of nine he arrived in the Galápagos for the first time and he was profoundly touched by nature, observation, and isolation.  When he saw the sharks, rays and turtles swimming in the bay, he was triggered by a sense of wonder that he did not feel before.  Celso believes education is key to preservation. After graduating from the Naval Academy at the age of 17 he moved to New York to continue his education.

About the Videographer

Dave Katz

Video Chronicler

As a family growing up in the Finger Lakes region of New York, free time was spent in the outdoors. Dave’s mother, an earth science and biology teacher turned weekend hikes into informative lessons. The beautiful gorges, lakes and forests made a lasting impression.

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